HOME Let Cuba Live - News Update for May 2008
During the week beginning May 19, Cuban news broadcasts focused on email communications, video and audio recordings, signed receipts, and photographs testifying to Marta Beatriz Roque’s arrangements over two years with contacts in Miami to send money to Cuba to fund destabilization projects.
Five years ago, Cuban security services documented similar violations of Cuban law manifested by Cubans accepting money and goods handed out by the U.S. Interests Section. Over 70 of them went to jail.
Money still flows from the United States, but this time terrorist Santiago Alvarez, presently jailed in Miami, surfaces as paymaster. Michael Parmly, head of the U.S. Interests Section, was a courier.
Marta Beatriz Roque was jailed herself in 2003 and later released because of health reasons. E-mails she sent from computers at the U.S. Interests section, the embassies of Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and the Hotel Commodore yielded results. Every month Roque received $1500 which she kept, $2,400 which she gave to Laura Pollen for the Ladies in White, and $200 for Jorge Luis Garcia. Vladimir Roca, leader with Roque of the so-called “Agenda for the Transition” also accepted money.
The Ladies in White, mostly wives of those jailed in 2003, conduct regular public protests in Havana. President George Bush received one of them, Elsa Morejon, at the White House in January. He held a video conference with Roque, Pollen, and Garcia in early May.
The money arriving in Cuba comes from the Legal Rescue Foundation in Hialeah, based in the office of Santiago Alvarez. Two years ago the Foundation was set up to fund legal expenses for terrorist Luis Posada, recently arrived from Mexico on Alvarez’ yacht.
Over decades Alvarez, a wealthy developer and CIA veteran, launched armed attacks inside Cuba. He organized a failed assassination attempt against Cuban president Fidel Castro in Panama. Detained since 2005 for storing weapons destined for Cuba, Alvarez had jail time added for refusing to testify at Posada’s trial on immigration charges. Alvarez’ father worked for Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, and his grandfather organized the 1929 murder in Mexico of Cuban Communist Party founder Julio Mella.
Marta Beatriz Roque sent cajoling, flattering, and complaining emails imploring colleagues in Miami to extract money from “our friend,” Alvarez. She helped mobilize couriers, among them U.S. diplomats Robert Blau and Parmly, who transported money on at least three occasions. Cuban news reports displayed one Parmly e-mail to Roque reassuring her that cell phone costs are covered: “These things can be arranged among friends...This house is always open to you all.”
In Washington, State Department spokesperson Sean McCormick characterized the payments as non-political humanitarian aid to families of political prisoners, allowable for private donors.
Speaking to reporters, Cuban Foreign Ministry official Josefina Vidal focused on Parmly’s role in solidifying ties between terrorists in Florida and “counterrevolutionaries in Cuba.” For her, the outrageousness of U.S. actions signals a possible attempt to provoke Cuba into closing the Interests Section.
Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque listed objections. The money goes to mercenaries, not for humanitarian aid, he asserted at a press conference. Marta Beatriz Roque supplied Miamians with testimony as to humanitarian aid from Alvarez that they delivered to Judge James Cohn. Cohn had been considering a reduction of Alvarez’ sentence - later dropped from 46 to 30 months. Lastly, Perez Roque denounced U.S. officials in Cuba that “encouraged, financed, organized, directed, and monitored counterrevolutionary activity in order to destabilize.”
The Foreign Minister condemned Bush administration hypocrisy evidenced by money lavished upon counterrevolutionaries while Cuban American remittances to families in Cuba face restrictions.
Analyst Nelson Valdes emphasizes that while private largesse set off the present storm, U.S. destabilization of Cuba is funded largely through public funding to the tune this year of $45 million. Beneficiaries include right wing exile groups, Eastern European anti - Cuban politicians, and “money oriented ‘civil society’ promoters.” Only a fraction ends up in Cuba, he reports. Intelligence agencies secretly send additional monies to the island.
As yet no prosecutions are under way in Cuba. U.S. and European critics of the judicial proceedings in 2003 are silent. The jailing of dissidents then caused the European Union to impose sanctions, a decision being revisited in June.
Tom Whitney, May 6, 2008
Friends of Luis Posada Carriles held a banquet May 2 at the Big Five Club in West Miami-Dade in honor of the 80-year old Cuban exile. Pedro Peñaranda, president of Municipalities of Cuba in Exile, the group organizing the event, told the Miami Herald that supporters wanted to "recognize Posada as a great Cuban, a man of dignity and decency and as a great patriot." While a band played, a "beaming" Posada circulated among the tables greeting acquaintances, many of them fellow combatants at the Bay of Pigs, members of the so-called Brigade 2506. Well over 500 guests were on hand, including Ernesto Diaz, leader of the paramilitary Alpha 66 organization.
Posada is no stranger to the Big Five. Its lobby last year became a gallery for display and sale of 30 Posada paintings. In the early 1970s, Posada ran Venezuela's intelligence service as a torture shop. He helped direct a worldwide campaign of anti-Cuban sabotage and slaughter. He engineered a 1976 bomb attack on a Cuban Airliner killing 73 passengers. He supplied arms to "contra" rebels in Nicaragua under CIA auspices. He organized bombings of Havana hotels in 1997. One explosion killed an Italian tourist. Posada staged an assassination attempt against Cuban President Fidel Castro in 2000. He was honored for these "contributions."
Luis Posada, having entered the United States in 2005, was released pre-trial from jail on May 8, 2007 by federal judge Kathleen Cardone, who rejected a prosecutors' case charging him with lying to immigration officials. Since then Posada had been spotted in public only rarely in Miami prior to the Big Five gala.
Venezuela has sought Posada's extradition in order to finish with court proceedings related to the airliner bombing. Asked to comment on the event honoring Posada, Bernardo Alvarez, Venezuelan ambassador in Washington, said the United States "instead of complying with its treaty obligations, has provided protection for him ... It is once again a demonstration of the double standard on terrorism issues."
For over two years, a New Jersey grand jury has been exploring an indictment against Posada for taking Cuban exile money to pay for the hotel bombing attacks.